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Surprise! Tumblr used to have a secret music app


Jeff Rock, co-founder of Mobelux and Elixr, recently revealed an Easter Egg hidden inside of Tumblr’s official mobile app, Tumblrette (as it was previously called). Rock and his Mobelux partner Garrett Ross developed the Tumblrette app, for publishing Tumblr posts on the iPhone, which Tumblr acquired – which we now simply know as the Tumblr app. 

tumblr playBut before all that, when Tumblrette was two iterations old, there was a music app hidden inside of it called Tumblr Play – and it sounds a lot like the predecessor to Twitter Music. In Rock’s blog post, published last week, he explains that Tumblr Play was an app that he created and approached Tumblr about making public. What stopped Tumblr HQ from making Play a reality was the very real threat of music labels and licensing agencies reigning hell on Tumblr for releasing an unsanctioned music player without any licensing deals – a legitimate concern.

The in-app radio was well-hidden inside Tumblrette. To access it, you needed to view the in-app settings, shake the iPhone “hard” twice, and finally enter the name of “Franklin” a Boston Terrier. The music from a user’s Tumblr Dashboard would be played back “sequentially and automatically,” the audio or music could be reblogged directly from the player, or it would continue playing in the background if you left the app alone – these are all features available in Twitter #Music, although there is no relation between the two apps. 

Before we go anywhere else – why Franklin? Rock says his dog – Franklin – was snoring under his desk while he was coding the password functionality to Tumblr Play, “so it was the first thing that came to mind.”

While Rock’s music app for Tumblr may have gotten there first, has takes no issue with Twitter Music. “Twitter is slowly becoming a mass media communication platform like TV or radio, so I think it makes perfect sense that they wanted to play around with music discovery,” he tells us. 

As for Tumblr Play, the feature wasn’t meant to be a playback app but rather for the purpose of music discovery, considering the fact that you couldn’t control what you were playing. “It wasn’t perfect, but I loved it,” he says. “Sure, you ended up with the occasional comedy skit in between an eclectic mix of pop and indie music, but that was awesome. That was Tumblr.” 

While Tumblr Play was pulled in 2009, Rock says he had other things in mind for the app. “I definitely wanted to add in artist following and recommendations,” he says. “I had a few comps of those features in an improved Tumblr Play and in-line music player for Tumblr 2.0, but they were scrapped pretty early in the design process.”

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